The Palace, located at 810 South Austin Avenue in Georgetown, Texas (about 25 miles north of Austin), was built in 1925 by A. C. Moore of Bartlett, Texas. A grand opening in February of 1926 brought silent films to this new community gathering place, followed three years later by the wonder of “talkies.” The first showing of a film with sound in November of 1929 was so successful that the Williamson County Sun reported “…the new theatre was marked by record-breaking attendance, standing room not even being available Monday night.” (Sun, November 15, 1929)
The buff brick exterior of the original building became the present Art Deco facade in 1938 during remodeling done by Mr. & Mrs. O. A. Englebrecht, who owned the theatre from 1927 until 1968. The stucco exterior of 1938 brought a major distinction to the Palace: it is reported by the Georgetown Heritage Society to be the only building of the Art Deco period found in Georgetown. “A Palace of dreams! That was what the local movie house represented to young people in Georgetown… Without the Palace, it is hard to imagine what would have sparked the creative and questing urges of thousands of youngsters who grew up here during the Depression, World War II, and the drought-plagued 50s.” (Williamson County Sunday Sun, editorial page, Dec. 23, 1990). When the Palace could no longer compete as a movie theatre and was forced to close in late 1989, it became the oldest continuously operated movie theatre in the same building in Williamson County.
In December of 1990, a group of concerned citizens founded Georgetown Palace Theatre, Inc., a 501©(3) Non-Profit, to save this historic theatre for Williamson County. In just one week, this group met the challenge of raising $10,000 for operating expenses and equipment. These are the Gold and Silver Charter Members whose plaque hangs in the Palace lobby. Those who participated in the task of cleaning up the building became known as The Palace Guard. In a little more than 90 days, the Palace Theatre was given back to the people of Williamson County through the cash donations, volunteer efforts, and hard work of fewer than 300 concerned folks.
Annual donations by individuals and business sponsors in the Williamson County community maintained the day-to-day success of the Palace venture from 1991 to 1999. Over that nine-year period, hundreds of volunteers were involved in performing, directing, selling tickets, preparing and distributing posters and flyers, ushering, working on clean-up chores, helping with mail-outs and fundraisers, and serving in various roles on the Board of Directors.
For the sesquicentennial celebration in 1998 of both the City of Georgetown and Williamson County, a Palace tradition called You Can’t Do That, Dan Moody! was born. From a book by the same name written the previous year by Ken Anderson (then Williamson County District Attorney), Tom Swift (then Artistic Director for the Palace) joined with Mr. Anderson to write a stage play. The play was produced by the Palace and performed in the Williamson County Courthouse in the very courtroom where the original trial of several KKK members in 1923 was successfully prosecuted by Dan Moody (who later became governor of Texas).
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